‘Dual Participation Protocol’ for Super 6 players explained

Stage 3 academy members allowed to participate in Premiership, but no 'playing down' for the 30 players who are contracted directly to Super 6

Super 6
Boroughmuir, Watonians, Stirling County, Melrose, Ayr and Heriot's will compete in Super 6 next season. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

THE prohibition of most players involved in Super 6 from being able to take part in domestic club games was outlined by a ‘player movement update’ issued by the SRU this [Friday] afternoon.

The update explained that the 30 players registered directly to each Super 6 squad will be ‘ring-fenced’, meaning they cannot dual register with any team playing in the Premiership, National Leagues or Regional Leagues.

However, the five Stage 3 Academy players in each Super 6 squad (who are directly contracted to the SRU) can be dual registered with a Premiership club, but not a National League or Regional League club. That means they will not, in the first instance, be able to play for the ‘Club XV’ of the Super 6 side they are attached to, as these teams have been placed in National One next season.

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Given that the initial impetus for Super 6 was apparently concern within the SRU’s performance department that the Premiership was not providing the right environment for the country’s best young players to develop, it is pretty astonishing that provisions are now being made for these talented youngsters to participate in a league which will inevitably be of an even lower standard once 180 of the nation’s best club players are removed.

“This reflects current practice and such players will be able to choose the club they wish to be dual registered with. To assist players in deciding, interested clubs will be able to speak to the relevant player, via their Academy Manager, to make the case for the player choosing to be dual registered at their club,” explained the update.

Clubs like Aberdeen Grammar in the north, and Hawick and Jed-Forest in the south, will be concerned that they will miss out through this allocation process because they are not as accessible for players as central belt teams.

Pro player release

It was also confirmed that Edinburgh Rugby and Glasgow Warriors contracted players can play for a Super 6 team, subject to the terms of the Super 6 Competition Rules, as has previously been the case with pro players being released to the Premiership.

“Scottish Rugby will review the ‘playing down’ principles in May 2020, in advance of the 2020-21 season, to ensure the principles are operating effectively and to ensure integrity of competition in leagues,” the update added.

Play up! play up! and play the game!

The ‘playing up’ of players from the Premiership and national leagues into Super 6 will be permitted in “limited circumstances and on a controlled basis”, where injuries occur within a Super 6 squad, or where there is a need for an additional player to be added to a Super 6 squad for some other valid reason. This will be regulated within defined circumstances, including medical certification, approval of both the lending and borrowing clubs, approval of the Super 6 competition organisers, and so on.

Super 6 players will be permitted to play for another Super 6 team on a week-to-week basis as a ‘permit [layer’. This will not affect their registration with their own Super 6 team.

If a Super 6 player is ‘long-term injured” – ie expected to miss at least 30% of their team’s competitive fixtures – then the relevant Super 6 team may apply to replace the player in their squad. If an injury replaced player then returns to fitness, they may not return to the relevant Super 6 squad unless replacing another long-term injured player. If the injury replaced player does not return as a member of the relevant Super 6 squad, they may, when fit, play in any other league or tournament for which they are qualified.

If a Super 6 team reasonably believes that it may be unable to meet its playing commitments due to a shortage of players in the specialist positions of front-row and scrum-half, or does not have enough fit players to fulfil a match day squad (as a result of medically validated injuries/illness), it may apply to include ’emergency player(s)’ in its squad, drawn from any other club with agreement from the player and from both clubs involved. Approval for ’emergency players’ shall only be granted on a match-by-match basis.

A player cannot play for a Super 6 team as an ’emergency player’ in more than four matches per season; and playing for a Super 6 team as an ’emergency player’ will not break the player’s primary or secondary league registration in terms of the National Competition Rules.

To use the ‘permit player’, ‘long-term injured’ or ’emergency player’ provisions, the relevant Super 6 team must apply in advance to the Technical Director of Scottish Rugby [Stevie Gemmell] explaining the rationale.

As with ‘playing down’, Scottish Rugby will review the ‘playing up’ principles in May 2020, in advance of the 2020-21 season “to ensure the principles are delivering the best outcomes for the majority of players and clubs, are operating effectively and to ensure integrity of competition in leagues”.

The principles outlined above will be implemented next season subject to ratification by the Scottish Rugby Board.

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About David Barnes 3911 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.


  1. It’s happening whether we like it or not so lets get behind it and try to make it work for Scottish rugby as a whole. Feel there is a very anti super six agenda on here which belies the professionalism of all other aspects of the site and disappoints because of it.

    • The most important role of a journalist in a democracy is to shine a light down the corridors of power and report objectively on what is revealed without fear of reprisal. Super 6 is the brainchild of a small group of individuals in a position of power who are making decisions with no thoughts to their wider consequences, despite the fact they have significant impact on the game’s stakeholders. That the Offside Line at least attempts to hold these individuals accountable for their actions when no one else will is perhaps the most important thing they have and can do.

    • Thanks for your comment, Scrummo.

      We believe a key role of The Offside Line is to scrutinise the big issues in Scottish rugby, and hold those responsible for running the game to account. Which is what we have endeavoured to do with our coverage of Super 6.

      It would be helpful if you could tell us which specific elements of this article you feel represent an ‘anti-Super 6 agenda’?

    • Indeed it is happening. But what does “get behind this” mean?

      I won’t go and watch an S6 match over my club. And we still don’t know when their matches will get played! I do want to see this be a success but have doubts on its viability from a number of angles.

      whats fascinating is the inability to learn from experience. It took decades for Edinburgh and Glasgow to build up a following. What makes the S6 sides and the SRU think this tournament will somehow be able to leap ahead of that?

  2. Only for one season…then new rules will permit Super6 players to play for their Club XV as and when they get promoted back up into the Premiership. Warehousing to an extreme!

  3. Well that’s easy to understand.

    If only these issues could have been foreseen before this was launched….

  4. Sounds like a right bourach.
    Also sounds like something a lawyer would be needed to adjudicate over as there seems to be a number of areas which could result in total confusion.
    Smacks of bureaucracy applying rules after the event.

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